Hassan Khadr
December 30, 2008 - 1:00am

If the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel did not exist today, most of the population of the Gaza Strip would have already been pushed into Sinai. And, if the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel did not exist today, most of the population of the West Bank would have already been driven onto the East Bank of the Jordan River. Therefore, those existing peace treaties have in fact been the best guarantee to avoid the mass expulsion of Palestinians.

Liberating Palestine, meaning eliminating the Israeli state that exists in the 1948 borders, has not been a possibility since 1967. That is because this state is protected first by nuclear bombs, and second by the American and European military, political, and economic power. In both cases, the Arabs do not stand a real chance to win in such a fight.

In spite of the fact that the era of American global hegemony is about to end, the next phase of international relations will not necessarily be beneficial to the Arabs. This is because the political and economical interests of India, China, Japan, and the Asian tigers will crystallize in a new world which is very different from the world after World War II and the Cold War.

In this new world, Arabs do not have any real winning cards. The countries that can summon armies, like Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Morocco, and Algeria suffer from problems that they cannot overcome for at least 50 years. Also, the countries that have money, like the Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia, realize that they need to be very diplomatic and careful in their actions so that others do not forcefully seize both them and their money.

Most importantly, this new world is coming into being at the very moment of the the collapse of the Arab world’s traditional and modern structures of leadership. Meanwhile, new rising power centers and regional forces in the Middle East try to fill in the gap, and spread their influence in areas that the Arab state system is unable to protect. The new powers like Turkey and Iran will not necessarily adopt the Palestinian cause, except insofar as it serves their own interests. Those interests consist of dividing the influence, wealth, and security of our region of the world between the two of them. Iran has chosen its enmity to Israel as a blackmailing tool, whereas Turkey, on the contrary, acts as a mediator between Syria and Israel. Also, there is no evidence that Iran will not change its position as soon as their interests in the Gulf are recognized.

The overriding factor is that the Arabs in all their peoples, regimes, and societies, do not represent one front, or one social, political, and cultural unit. Thus, they will not unite like the European Union, for example, before establishing their own internal economical, social, and political stability, which at the moment seems a far-fetched aspiration. Therefore, some will see more gains in establishing relations with Israel (and that has already happened), than enrolling in anti Israel fronts.

Based on all of that, speaking of the current situation in the Arab World (particularly in the context of the pain and political consequences that resulted from the open Israeli attack against Gaza), using language and expressions of the past becomes either a grave mistake or a form of cheap blackmail. Speaking of the Arab street, popular masses, paralyzed regimes, organized protests, and incendiary slogans, does not amount in fact to anything more than addressing a new reality using an old language, which fails to either describe or treat it.

In the Arabic World one finds regimes that are incapable of independent action and others that are courageous and bellicose, except that the former are truthful in expressing the reality of the existing situation, and that the later are engaged in an elaborate bluff that does not fool anyone. But what is new in this situation – and this is one of the signs of judgment day – is the fact that some entities like Qatar seek to play both sides against the middle. This country is a friend to the Americans, the Israelis, al Qaeda, Hamas, extremist Islamist groups, and Hezbollah all at the same time.

Nobody seems to want to state plainly that the Islamist political groups in the Arab World and outside of it, who organize the largest portion of the protests, hooliganism, condemnations, and so on, demand the implementation of programs and policies capable of ruining countries, destroying nations, and disintegrating societies. If the extremist Muslim groups in Egypt were able to impose their ideology on the ruling elite, or take over power directly, Egypt would certainly become a virtual wasteland.

In addition, nobody wants to state plainly that the program and slogans of the Muslim Brothers and the Islamist political groups that are riding the wave in the Arab World would return everything to a year zero, and that all lessons learned from previous confrontations during the last six decades will be blown away in the wind.

Those groups want to liberate Palestine from the river to the sea. But when they take control of one area, like Gaza for example, they immediately look for a long term truce and negotiations, which is, of course, everything they previously rejected.

Is it conceivable that nations go on into a closed loop over more than four decades as if they did not learn anything, and did not absorb one single lesson? Is it possible that they can deteriorate from bad to worse, and that all memory gives way to willful amnesia?

Yes, it is possible. And it is happening right now. We will not learn a single thing if we use the language of the past in talking about the present, or if we believe the lies and bluffs of those who are hungry for power and gamble with the lives and fates of impoverished nations. None of those responsible for the Gaza disaster will loose anything. The only loss is for the fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers and children of the fallen ones, and also for Palestine, as a nation and a cause. It is a long night, and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.


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